ChaloHoppo to an Unorthodox Tour of Sikkim with a visit to the North
In a state where the most difficult terrains have been tamed and homestays are as common as rhododendron flowers in spring, can one still find places that can be termed offbeat and experiences that are handpicked? Come and find out.
Reviews 2 Reviews3/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Leisurely
Group Size Medium Group
Let’s avoid the word offbeat and simply describe this journey as an unorthodox tour of Sikkim. The perfect balance between ensuring that stunning places which have a heavy tourist footfall aren’t missed, but there are enough punctuations where you will be left alone at the behest of nature.
Homestays in lesser known valleys and resorts overlooking crispy clouds would shelter you during this tour. From tasting authentic Bhutia, Lepcha and Nepali cuisine, to experimenting with varieties of organically brewed variations of beers and wines, this tour of Sikkim can compel those who may have already seen Sikkim come back for a renewed perspective.
The journey starts from Lingtam, a village at about 5000 feet with pleasant weather, crisscrossed by gushing streams, serving as an ideal stop before reaching the high altitude destinations in North Sikkim. Gurdongmar lake and Yumthang valley will fill your albums but before that a farmstay in the protected village of Dzongu in North Sikkim will steal your heart.
The trip ends with a group dinner and some karaoke at Gangtok!
- Breakfast on day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5 and day 7
- Lunch on day 1, day 2, day 4, day 5, day 6 and day 7
- Dinner on day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5 and day 6
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis in the boutique village stays, homestays and farm stays.
- Transport from Gangtok to Gangtok in an Innova up to 6 travellers, and in a traveller for 8 travellers
- Parking, tolls, driver allowance, driver accommodation and driver food
- All necessary permits to enter North Sikkim.
- ChaloHoppo guy as a tour lead
- Airfare charges
- All food & beverages costs apart from the ones mentioned above
- Trekking shoes and clothing ( Any personal equipment)
- Any camera fees
- Hotel & driver tips if any, since the locals earn low wages, your tips can show your appreciation)
- Any personal expenditure (Toiletries, medicines, etc.)
- Cost incidental to any change in the itinerary/ stay on account of flight cancellation due to bad weather, ill health, roadblocks and/or any factors beyond control.
- Anything not specifically mentioned under the head “Inclusions”.
A village that has been hosting travellers for generations
The tour starts at 8 am from Gangtok. Travellers are expected to reach Gangtok the previous night on their own.
The journey starts from the capital of modern-day Sikkim at 5500 feet, taking you as high as 13500 feet to Gnathang valley, erstwhile home to Tibetan Yak herders, circling down the silk route through the Zuluk loops to come down to a more tropical Lintham crisscrossed by gushing streams. Yes, we pass the Tsongmo lake on our drive and Nathula pass.
You probably haven’t heard of this little village that used to be a hub of activity during the days of the old silk route. What you see today and frequented by tourists, the ’Zuluk’ loops didn’t exist back then. But Sikkimese traders from all over used to come down to Lingtam with their donkeys and halt at this place for the night, before beginning their journey up the steep mountains, their burdens carried by their beasts.
As the elders of Lingtam recall, the concept of homestays existed even then as the people of Lingtam would host them for the night, feeding them copious amounts of ’chang’ (millet beer) and other Bhutia delicacies.
You will walk into the subtropical piece of historical land and the hospitality of the homestay hosts shouldn’t surprise you. This is not the usual way one enters Sikkim, but nothing is usual about this itinerary as you will find out.
Today you rest in the homestay surrounded by a thick forest and secluded from the town by a gushing stream. The homestay is only accessible by foot and it can be spotted only by those who like venturing into the unknown.
Overnight at Dhungkar homestay.
Village hike and riverside nap
When you are visiting the hills it is always a good idea to earn your meal. That is what today is about. As we hike up from the homestay through a beautiful forest trail, passing through cardamon fields. On this walk, the guide will talk about and pluck out herbs every now and then if the group is keen to on some floral trivia.
A simple but delicious lunch awaits us upon our arrival hosted by a local family. After stuffing yourself, it is time to hike down and drive to the riverside where all we want you to do is – sleep. Yes, pick a rock that you like, take the pillow, and take a well-deserved nap, with the gushing sound of the river serving as a lullaby.
Evening time is family time and your hosts await to receive you and serve some splendid ‘chang’.
Overnight at Dhungkar homestay.
You don't go to Dzongu unless it invites you
Amidst deep valleys and lush forests of the Himalayas lies Dzongu, an almost virgin territory with a scanty population of Sikkim’s native inhabitants, the Lepchas. In between these dense jungles and gorges cut by glacial streams rests the beautiful property accessible only on foot or aboard a 4 by 4 vehicle. Munlom resort is your home for the next 2 days.
Dzongu in North Sikkim, as the locals believe, can be described as a path to heavenly land. That it comes under the newly declared world heritage site of Kanchendzonga National park only validates the spiritual, cultural and natural significance of Dzongu.
Today have lunch and explore the village on foot.
Overnight at Munlom nature resort.
Riverside picnic, pick your wild veggies and cook them!
After breakfast, it is time to head out for a walk and have a genuine picnic by the riverside. Walk leisurely, by letting the forest take you over. Apart from looking down at the deep gorges that the river Rongyong has cut its way through, every now and then you may be distracted by some fantastic bird with iridescent plumes flying across the windshield. After about an hour’s walk, we will come across the riverside. It’s a great idea to carry a few beers, chill them by dipping them in the river and take a swim yourself. You can help the team in plucking the wild veggies which will be served for lunch. Later we can watch the sunset before returning to the comfortable beds at Munlom.
Overnight at Munlom nature resort.
Halt, rest up before driving up to 18,000 feet the next day
Today is all about waiting for the next day and hoping that you will be allowed to the sight of the elusive Gurdongmar lake. Why elusive? Well because at ChaloHoppo we have not yet been fortunate enough to see the lake. If it was landslides in September, it was excessive snow in March. But we believe that this time the lake will grant us its blessings. There is barely a way to put the beauty of the lake in words. Let’s leave to the end of the of the trip?
Sleep early today, as we have an early wake-up call tomorrow.
Overnight at Lakhim homestay
The day of scaling mind-numbing heights and end the day at a most pristine village
4 am we should be up and fresh like daisies. Today is a day that requires us to follow some caution. Hydration, slow walk and munching on calories. The beauty of the lake can cause severe excitement leading us to want to jump for joy. But we’d rather not. At such an altitude it is important to be a little careful.
The drive to Gurdongmar lake will take approximately 3 hours one way and we need to be back to Lachen for lunch.
Post lunch we will move towards Lachung and the day couldn’t end on a better note or at a better place. Bichu village in Lachung, as you will find out, is the perfect way to ensure we stay out of the territory where all the tourists usually throng before they head to Yumthang valley.
Spend the night chatting about your experience since we have to leave at a more human time tomorrow. Another stunning landscape awaits at Yumthang valley.
A side note on the food served at this homestay is something we are holding back on, as we want you to tell us how you like it, cause we love it.
The homestay host is quite a knowledgeable person and if you have questions then he definitely will have the answers.
Overnight at Bichu homestay
Seeking pleasure in the drive and not the destination, and group dinner in Gangtok.
As cliched as it may sound, it is important to keep this in mind today -it is the journey that matters and not the destination. The honest truth is that North Sikkim’s beauty isn’t exactly a secret. Tourists in huge numbers usually throng the region and most of them gather at the final destination, making it a little, very crowded. But we have figured a way to work around this.
Go to the final destination but seek your pleasure and moments of solitude on the drive. Stop at bends that overlook the river. Take photos at open meadows which tourists don’t think worthy of a stop. And have a good playlist.
We head back to Bichu village for one last sumptuous lunch with the hosts. And then it is time to drive to Gangtok, freshen up and get dressed for the final dinner. We dare say dress well, since walking the streets of MG Marg is no less than walking a ramp!
Overnight at Sonam Delek hotel
Ideally we would like to have a last breakfast at this specific cafe- The Coffee shop before you start your journey back to the airport. Ideally, you should book your flights anytime after 2 pm from Bagdogra.
The tour officially ends after breakfast. Transport to Bagdogra airport is not included.
Dhungkar homestay in Lingtam
Munlom Nature resort in Dzongu
Sonam Delek hotel in Gangtok
Bichu Homestay in Lachung
Lakhim homestay in Lachen
30 Days prior to arrival: 50% refund
15 Days prior to arrival: 25% refund
Less than 15 Days prior to arrival : 0% refund
What type of bag to carry?
Carry a small bag(10 to 15 litres) for your trek down to Nongriat village that can fit essential toiletries and change of clothes for 1 night to reduce the weight on your shoulders and make the trek easier.
Basic toiletries and allergy medications and tissue rolls (if you need)
head lamps/ Torches with batteries
quick dry towels
ID Proof – Voters card/ Pan Card/ Passport/ Drivers license/ Aadhar card (to be sent on mail upon confirming the trip to [email protected])
Other things that you may bring along :
Sun tan lotion
Playing cards and small board games,in case you don’t feel sleepy at night
Any sort of alcoholic beverages
Go pro for under water shots
Campsite: Please avoid carrying plastic bottles or even buying sealed bottles while at the venue as want to have a litter free zone as much as possible.
Swimming: You have to be careful as it’s deep and sometimes the current could pull you in. If you aren’t a swimmer, please mention that specifically and put a request for renting a life jacket on email.
Avoid plastic: Please avoid buying mineral water, specifically while in Nongriat(Double decker living root bridges village) since it is a major cause of pollution in the delicate eco system of Nongriat. Remember to take up whatever you bring down.
Service: Though we will try our best to give you great service, please understand we won’t be able to give you hot towels, bed tea and the like.
A most definite yes, as long as you are okay travelling in a mixed group of other solo travellers or small group of friends.
- Winter jacket
- balaclava/ beanie (something that covers your ears and your head)
- Sports socks and Swimwear for the Nongriat trek, you can also get swimming goggles or snorkelling masks, and swimming cap
- Raincoat (just in case, since you are travelling in ‘abode of clouds’)
- Trekking shoes (basic ones will do)
- quick dry towels (plastic bag/ ziplock to carry your wet clothes)
- Allergy medications and other medicines, since these are very remote places with very little access to most basic things.
- A non-disposable water bottle to fill water and AVOID BUYING MINERAL WATER
- ID Proof – Voters card/ Pan Card/ Passport/ Drivers license/ Aadhar cardYou can always buy these things from the Decathlon (1 km away from the airport) in Guwahati, if you wish.
Other things that you may bring along :
headlamps/ Torches with batteries
Playing cards and small board games, in case you don’t feel sleepy at night
Go pro for underwater shots
Ideally a 60-litre backpack should be convenient, however, there is no real hiking or trekking with the bags, so a suitcase or trolley is also fine.
Do carry a separate smaller bag(10 to 15 litres) for your trek down to Nongriat village that can fit essential toiletries and change of clothes for 1 night only to reduce the weight on your shoulders and make the trek easier.
The cultural diversity of northeast India is so vast that we can’t blame outsiders for not being aware of communities in the region who are purely vegetarians, so much so that they avoid eating onions( they are indigenous to the region, in case you are thinking about communities from mainland India who have settled here). Having said that, we must admit that the region’s food habits especially in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya are predominantly non vegetarian with a whole lot of red meat based preparations. But the states have warmed up to tourists recently and almost every place you visit will provide the Indian staple diet of rice, dal and sabji, even chapatis if you are lucky. As far as Tripura, Assam, Manipur and Sikkim are concerned vegetarians have decent number of options. Your craving for butter paneer may not be satisfied, but you will do just fine as far as maintaining your health and strength is concerned.
|Package Confirmed Dates||Trip Status Trip Status||Price (PP) Excluding Flights|
June 22, 2019 - June 29, 2019
September 12, 2019 - September 19, 2019
November 23, 2019 - November 30, 2019
March 7, 2020 - March 14, 2020